If someone is unable to get to their polling station, they can ask someone they trust to vote on their behalf. This is called a proxy vote and the person casting the vote is referred to as a proxy.
The UK Government is proposing to limit the number of people for whom someone may act as a proxy.
Currently, a person can act as a proxy for an unlimited number of close relatives and two other people. Under the new rules, voters would be limited to acting as a proxy for two people, regardless of their relationship. Anyone voting on behalf of UK voters who live overseas could act as a proxy for up to four people.
Proxy voting is an important option for people who can’t vote in person. Changes to limit the number of voters for whom a person may act as a proxy could disadvantage some people who need someone to vote on their behalf.
When a voter applies to appoint a proxy, they are already required to state their relationship with the proposed proxy and to provide the reason they cannot attend their polling station. This ensures there are safeguards in place to protect against fraud. The changes proposed in the Bill risk limiting access to voting, without significantly enhancing the protection for voters.
After the 2019 UK Parliamentary general election, some overseas voters told us that they could not find a proxy in their constituency. Tightening the limits on the number of people for whom a voter may act as proxy could make it even harder for some overseas electors to cast their vote.